Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Cooking for Fun and Profit

By Laurel Halloran
from the Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries by Leslie Budewitz

Oh, my aching feet! Can you believe, when I gave up running restaurants to be a caterer, I thought I’d get more rest? Ha. But then I couldn’t stay away from the hum and thrall of the daily restaurant business. So this past month, the busiest of the year, I’ve been watching over the restaurant by day and overseeing catering crews in the evening.

I do love the holiday parties! We’ve done dinners for ten and dinners for two hundred. Trust me—ten is not necessarily easier. Some customers have a specific menu in mind, and while I love helping people create the dinner or party of their dreams, their mother’s beef stroganoff may not be the best choice. Others go with a theme, and that’s great fun.

Appetizer menus are great fun—they let my staff try new flavor combos. But for heaven’s sake, give your guests plates and plenty of places to sit! Even the most coordinated guest can have trouble balancing food and drink while visiting.

The biggest challenge is always the weather and the streets. Wouldn’t you know, the night of our biggest party with the most demanding client and the biggest number of dishes, it snowed? Getting our delivery van up Seattle’s hills in the white stuff, with other drivers fishtailing and slipping and sliding—well, I can tell you, when I got home after that job, I drained every bit of the leftover champagne!

My favorite gig of the season, though, was Christmas Day, when I stirred up Gabe’s favorite sausages and eggs, pulled cinnamon rolls out of the freezer, and reveled in watching my son. Just looking at his sweet face, especially when the cat jumped in his lap. Now that he’s a college boy, she misses him as much as I do.

So good to gather with those we love, to feed them, pet them, look at them. That’s what the season’s all about.

I hope you are enjoying a lovely season festive time with those who touch your hearts. 

Happy Release Day to my friends Barbara Ross, for Iced Under, and Liz Mugavero, for Custom-Baked Murder!

From the cover of KILLING THYME, Spice Shop Mystery #3 (October 2016).  

At Seattle Spice in the Pike Place Market, owner Pepper Reece is savoring her business success, but soon finds her plans disrupted by a killer…

Pepper Reece’s to-do list is longer than the shopping list for a five-course dinner, as she conjures up spice blends bursting with seasonal flavor, soothes nervous brides fretting over the gift registry, and crosses her fingers for a rave review from a sharp-tongued food critic. Add to the mix a welcome visit from her mother, Lena, and she’s got the perfect recipe for a busy summer garnished with a dash of fun. 

While browsing in the artists’ stalls, Pepper and Lena drool over stunning pottery made by a Market newcomer. But when Lena recognizes the potter, Bonnie Clay, as an old friend who disappeared years ago, the afternoon turns sour. To Pepper’s surprise, Bonnie seems intimately connected to her family’s past. After Bonnie is murdered only days later, Pepper is determined to uncover the truth. 

But as Pepper roots out long-buried secrets, will she be digging her own grave?

Leslie Budewitz is the author of the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries and the Spice Shop Mysteries—and the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction. The president of Sisters in Crime, she lives in northwest Montana with her husband, a musician and doctor of natural medicine, and their cat Ruff, a cover model and avid bird-watcher. 

Swing by my website and join the mailing list for my seasonal newsletter. And join me on Facebook where I announce lots of giveaways from my cozy writer friends.


  1. That is what the season is all about! Excited for the third book in your life! Happy release day to your friends.

    1. Thanks, Tonya! Extra challenges and extra joys for those with extra-busy businesses this time of year!

  2. Your covers always invite a reading. Looking forward to next book in series. Enjoyed Killing Thyme. Northwest Montana (Polson) was my area.

    1. Jake, you lived in Polson! Then you have no trouble identifying the real Jewel Bay! So glad you enjoy the covers -- they always make me smile.

  3. Thanks for the shout out, Leslie!

    Just Killing Thyme is next in my TBR pile. Love the Spice Shop Mysteries.

    1. My pleasure! Santa brought me a Kindle Fire, and I'm downloading Musselled Out today! (A bit behind...) Enjoy the trip to Seattle, on the page.